Sun Wukong is the most significant animation character in China. It has been 60 years since the first character appear in the scene. In 2015, the first 3D version of him appears in the Money King: Hero is Back.
There are tons of reasons that why the Money King is so popular. He is the main character in the 16th century Chinese classical novel Journey to the West and he owns many supernatural powers which caught both adults and children’s attention. For me, the figure and characteristic of Wukong is very close to a real human being. He can be strong and protective, at the same time also arrogant and bad-tempered.
The movie Money King: Hero is Back is regarded as the most successful 3D works in China currently. The whole movie is very dedicated and introducing many Chinese classic cultures, such as the shadow puppet.
Although there are plenty of arts works of the money king, such as tv animation series, short movies, puppet movies… The new 3D films create a whole new story and from a brand new point of view with the traditional sense of the character. In the old version, Wukong has a monk mentor , however the new version is a 5 years old little monk “mentor”. The huge distinct of the appearance and ages creates many fun little stories. And way of the little monk is taking care the big ones makes the connections between the two main characters more complicated and more moving. In a movie, it is always interesting that letting the little one protects the strong one, isn’t it?
Recently, I have read Animation in China: History, aesthetics, media by Sean Macdonald.
There is a phrase mentioned in the book which is “national style”. The author analyzes many articles discussed Chinese national style in animation and motion pictures. However, martial arts seems like the main stream and plays a majority of roles in the Chinese film and television industry due to the large amount of Hong Kong Kung fu movies and TV series.
Jay Leyda claimed PRC filmmakers “had learned so little from their arts of the past.” The positive side is that people in Chinese industry began to dig into Chinese culture instead of keeping creating Kung Fu creatures. Big Fish & Begonia which is an animation tells a story of a mystical realm that exists beneath the human world which is based on a story in Classic of Mountains and Seas. I personally highly recommend Classic of Mountains and Seas. This book existed since the 4th century BC and contains many ancient Chinese mythology and weird creatures which is a wonderful resource for character design and story telling. Some animals it recorded now found in every corner of the world. For instance, it even described alligator snapping turtle which is now found in Florida, the United States and Zebra from Africa. Thousands of years ago, those creatures were living in China.
I believe that in every country there are plenty of culture and mythologies have been shown in the screen. And people are suppose to break the “national style” and keep finding and searching more interesting things in their own history and traditional culture for building the creative works.